Category Archives: Church Practice

“STJ 86: Taste and Bee” – Process & Theology

This art piece – STJ 86: Taste and Bee – thinks through Anglican, Sarah Coakley’s, articulation of desire in a Mennonite context. Here are a few slightly edited excerpts of an essay I wrote for professor Jeremy Bergen this year at Grebel Uni.:

STJ 86 Taste and Bee

“STJ 86: Taste and Bee” by Lisa Obirek, December 2015

5 reduction linocut on stonehenge paper with added media: water soluble oil, paint pens, raw bees wax, nail polish, gold leaf

This piece is called a “print” and fits within the broader artistic medium of “printmaking.” The more specific term for this particular print is called a five-reduction linocut. This means I use a traditional piece of rubbery linoleum which is essentially just heated up linseed oil and I carve designs into the same block of linoleum in five different stages.  I use carving tools that are similar to traditional wood carving tools on a smaller scale. These carving tools have different ends, or “bits,” that make their own distinct cuts into the linoleum. Continue reading “STJ 86: Taste and Bee” – Process & Theology

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A good prayer

I have found that virtually every time I am involved in some sort of worship setting I am drawn to one of the prayers in Sing the Story. As the title of the post says, it’s a good prayer. Given that I’m not able to use it nearly as often as I’d like to, I thought I’d post it here.

Christ, whose insistent call

disturbs our settled lives:

give us discernment to hear your word,

grace to relinquish our tasks,

and courage to follow empty-handed

wherever you may lead;

that the voice of your gospel

may reach to the ends of the earth

AMEN

Urgent Call to Prayer for Church of the Brethren in Nigeria

I don’t know that this blog has much broadcasting power, but particularly after the horrifying events over the last week and a half in northern Nigeria, I want to bring attention to the Mennonite World Conference’s urgent call to prayer for the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria). Here is a link to the letter addressed to the churches.There are ways to hear some of the stories and to let the church in Nigeria know that we are holding their plight in our prayers. As the letter says, “often in situations such as this, it is the sense of loneliness and lack of evident support from others that is most discouraging. Let us bear these burdens together.”

God in our lives: control freak or aloof?

Though it is incomprehensibly popular, the idea that the Christian God is a God who ensures that all that happens on earth fits into a divine plan and is according to God’s will is also unaccountably stupid. Such a view, briefly, makes a mockery of the immense amount of senseless tragedy and suffering that this earth experiences far, far too often. It robs us of any sort of agency. And it also denies the reality of any sort of evil or sin (all events actions must be perfectly good because they are exactly as God intends them to be). And such a view is alien to Scripture, which continually emphasizes the importance of human choice, the reality of corruption and evil, and presents a God who is often quite dissatisfied with events as they are. Not all that happens on earth is just (obviously!); and there is no plan that everything fits into.

Of course, I am far from the first to see many of the gaping pitfalls in the image of God. Continue reading God in our lives: control freak or aloof?

The Final Solution to Non-Violent Christian Mission

It seems to me that much current academic energy goes into two broadly contradictory tasks. The first attempts to unearth violences in texts of all sorts, to deconstruct them. The second (after showing the utter violence in all other ideas, interpretations, and approaches) moves on to present itself as the movement or position free of all problems and finally offering a truly final solution. Some have seen fit to critique the former approach. However, though I can see a potential for such a task to become pedantic or overly dismissive, I tend to find such work both judicious and important. The latter approach, on the other hand, is one that I am quickly becoming tired of. It is one thing to enthusiastically promote a good idea; it is another to dismiss all others out of hand, renounce critical self-reflection, and triumphantly present an idea as both untried and sure to success.

With that I want to present my final solution to non-violent Christian mission. I get it from a sermon preached by Lydia Harder at the Mennonite Church in Montreal around a year ago. She took three paradigms of Christian mission and worked with them, with congregational singing in between. She briefly described each, talked about their benefits and virtues, and then critiqued them, showing the ways that they can turn violent. And then we sang.

Continue reading The Final Solution to Non-Violent Christian Mission