Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Sermon

I preached at the church of my dear friend, Shane Hipps, a few weeks back. Here's the sermon.


Blogger Ben said...

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5:36 PM  
Blogger Ben said...


I enjoyed what you had to say.

Maybe another way of asking the question is what makes us Anabaptist? I wonder what sort of job we’ve done with this question over the years. Our traditions run deep; and recognizing the truth in the tradition and adapting new practices to keep the truths is often seen as not holding to the truth. A lot of the Mennonite experience is very wrapped up in the methods; such that changing methods is borderline impossible as the “constituency” has difficulty handling the changes.

So is it our traditions that equal a “Tight Fisted, White Knuckled” approach? I’m not sure.

Of course after listening, I guess I’m too close because I think maybe we Anabaptists are a bunch of “Whos”; in need of “Horton” to hear us. Because sometimes I feel like we’ve been shouting “We’re here; We’re here” on our little dust ball. :-)

So to be honest, I’m not sure how I can “Share My Blessing” with the broader church. Many of our brothers and sisters have been lamenting that we’ve too long been “The quiet in the land”.

Perhaps we’ve become too wealthy in this land to afford to be radical anymore?

Well hopefully some other commenters will do a better job offering up answers as all I’ve done is restate the question. :-( :-)

5:48 PM  
Blogger M. Franks said...

The Church is like lava, that is an awesome image of the church. I enjoyed the sermon. Thanks for your words.


7:45 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

sermons . . . what are those? i thought all we did was talk about sex with animals.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Ken Archer said...

This is such a clear and passionate sermon – I loved it! I’m not sure how much I agree with it, but I don’t think disagree with it yet either. So, I want to try to state it back to you to try to understand it well.

Your idea that “the gospel is like lava” reminds me vividly of Nietzsche’s Apollonian-Dionysian idea. Nietzsche wrote about these two Greek gods in The Birth of Tragedy, in which he described Greek tragedy as "that art [which] owes its continuous evolution to the Apollonian-Dionysiac duality". I think, Tony, you view good Christian theology the same way Nietzsche views great art. Apollo, the god of sculpture, is for Nietzsche the symbol of order, form and restraint, whereas Dionysius, the god of music and wine, is the symbol of the frenzy of passion and unpredictable life forces. Nietzsche writes, "It is by those two art-sponsoring deities, Apollo and Dionysius, that we are made to recognize the tremendous split, as regards both origins and objectives, between the plastic, Apollonian arts and the non-visual art of music inspired by Dionysius. The two creative tendencies developed alongside one another, usually in fierce opposition, each by its taunts forcing the other to more energetic production, both perpetuating in discordant concord that agon which the term art but feebly denominates; until at last, by the thaumaturgy of an Hellenic act of will, the pair accepted the yoke of marriage and, in this condition, begot Attic tragedy, which exhibits the salient features of both parents." Nietzsche admired Greek tragedy for this reason, and he admired the 19th century German composer Richard Wagner for the same reasons - until Wagner converted to Christianity, at which point Wagner became a central target of Nietzsche's criticism. For Nietzsche, 19th century culture denied the Dionysian creative force, smothering everything with life-denying Christian, Apollonian pieties. Progress for Nietzsche depends on the perpetual dialectic between these two forces.

In your sermon, likewise, you seem to be arguing that perhaps the religious creeds and systematic theologies of Christianity represent the Apollonian process of edifying the moving of the Holy Spirit in His Kingdom, only to be shattered by the inevitable Dionysian movement of the Holy Spirit against this edifice, bringing us again face to face with God in a new, fresh way. Nietzsche’s argument had similar application to music, in which revolutionary composers such as Berg, Bergson and Stravinsky attempted to escape from the structure that had dominated compositions to that point, in some cases by actually writing their name on the score and then playing it to see what it sounds like. The most famous result of this reintroduction of a Dionysian phase into classical music is Stravinsky's Rites of Spring, which at its Paris debut in 1913 caused a riot in the opera house. Imagine that, a classical music performance causing a violent riot! Of course, by now music has domesticated Stravinsky's type of composition, and classical music entered another Apollonian phase until John Cage's attempt to integrate some other music styles into classical music. It's interesting to listen to the Rites of Spring now and to imagine that a riot was caused by its performance, just like it’s interesting to read the creeds of past Christian reformers and imagine that blood was shed on both sides over them.

6:35 AM  

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