Redeeming Animism, Part 5: Eagle Sighs


Continued from Part 4


After a long arduous climb
With a mouse, dog and snake
We pause at a cave
For a much-needed break

I’m seeking the eagle
That serpents do fear
Hoping he’ll tell me
My quest’s end is near

Will he be heroic
Decisive and quick
Or fat and despondent
Like Thor when he’s “thick?”

Then I hear his cry
Shadow on the wall
And discover he’s not
What I expected at all!


Aquila: Ooh, you brought lunch!

Earnest: You’re a girl?!

Yes, the manly eagle I had sought turned out to be a female. And not just female, but a tween girl; some sort of teenybopper.
And I don’t like the way she’s eyeing my companions. Apparently, neither do they.

Sminthus: Eek!

Nehushtan: Hiss!

Qhuinn: I believe the correct canine response is: “Grr, stay away from me and my friends!”

A. Ooh, you can talk. Who’s a cute puppy? Who’s a cute puppy!

Qhuinn the coyote-cum-spaniel

Q. I say, stop that. I’m not actually a dog. No, please, not your feathers. I’m really the incarnation of… Ooh! Right there. Ahh…

Qhuinn flips onto his back and starts flailing his legs while she scratches his belly. So much for my fierce protector.

E. Um, excuse me, we’re actually here on a serious quest.

A. Of course you are. Who’s a serious doggie? Are you a serious doggie? Are you enjoying your quest?

Q. Best… Quest… Ever.

I start to interrupt her, but then realize that tickling my friends is vastly preferable to her eating them. I decide to wait it out.

A. Okay, there you go. All done.

Qhuinn mumbles something inaudible from where he is sprawled on the floor. Aquila giggles and slaps him away.

E. What did he say?

A. “Marry me!” [snorting]

This encounter is not going at all like I planned. Sminthus is still too terrified to be of help. I gaze imploringly at Nehushtan. He sighs and raises himself up on his coils to look Aquila in the face.

N. Greetings, fair maid…

Before he can finish, Aquila transforms from dreamy schoolgirl into fierce predator. She lunges into the air and pounces on Nehushtan. One razor-sharp talon pins his head to the ground — facing away from her — while the other hovers a fraction of an inch above his throat.

A. Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh! No lookee-lookees from the snakie. I’m not old enough yet to face all my future fears. [She turns to me and winks] My parents don’t even let me date yet!

E. Oh! Parents. Er, could you perhaps call them? I’m sure there the ones we were supposed to meet. You see, we are on…

A. I know, a really serious blah blah blah save the world blah blah quest. My parents already know all about it. That’s why they sent ME!

The sight of a killer eagle batting her eyelashes is apparently enough to shock Sminthus out of his stupor.

S. My lady… are you really the one meant to help us? Then were you… just kidding about… eating us?

With a flick of her claw, the young eagle casually tosses the massive snake against the back wall of the cave. She walks over to stare out the opening, a heavy weight seeming to descend upon her young shoulders.

She doesn’t meet our gaze. Her voice is soft, almost a whisper, with none of the frivolity she so recently displayed.

A. I… am sorry. I did not realize this would be so hard. Yes, I am here to help you. But you know little of what you ask, and less of how much it would cost me. If I am to survive long enough to be of use to you, you must feed me… a sacrifice.

Cold dread freezes my bones. Could I really sentence one my companions to death, if that’s what it took to achieve my goal?

Well, maybe the snake…

No. That is not the way. At least, not The Way.

E. Eat me.

She turns at looks at me, then giggles. The toss of her head reminds me of Artemis, for some reason.

A. You? You have already laid down your life many times over. You will not get off so easily.

E. You don’t need all of me, right? Perhaps just a.. a part of me? My… heart?

A. You want to give me your heart? Silly man, I told you I was too young to date!

She snickers, then looks at me with a dangerous gleam in her eye.

A. And anyway, your Greek friends should have taught you the proper sacrifice required of those who would bring the secrets of heaven to mortal man.

A sick horror overcomes me. I glance down involuntarily at my chest. I begin to shudder.

A. That’s right. I get to eat your liver. Every. Single. Day.

To be continued in Part 6

Redeeming Ares, Part 3: Un-Hasty Hestia


Continued from Part 2


I approach the throne of Apollo.
Carrying a small wooden chest.
Still slightly hung over from my encounter with Dionysus.

Apollo smiles.

A. So, mortal man!
Have you solved the riddle?
Have you brought as an offering
That which you value the most
And others value the least?

In answer, I place the chest on the ground.
I open the lid.
Revealing an iron ring.

E. Here it is.
My Pride.
That which I value too much.
And others not all.
Take it, along with greetings from your brother.

A. Ah, little man.
You will not get off so easily!
In truth, your Pride is wounded
That you seek to cast it off so quickly.
I tell you, your Pride has value even to others,
For it allows them to predict your behavior.
Nor is it wrong for you to esteem it greatly.
Because without it, you would not have made it here.
In truth, even I am not worthy to take it from you.
You must bear it hence
As part of your quest.

Puzzled, I heft the chest.

E. So then, where must I go?
Is it to one who will relieve me
Of this burden I now find so distasteful?


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Christianity Beyond, Draft 1


Bringing Heaven to Earth. One Cross at a Time.

[Update: see my background thinking in Draft 2]

Christianity Beyond is a movement of ordinary people who are learning how to make the same kind of extraordinary impact as the Jesus they love.  We honor all the ways people have sought to follow Jesus in the past and present, but dare to go beyond that in order to demonstrate to a watching world just how good and worthy Jesus is.

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LEAD! C.12 Joy in the Journey


In Which We Begin to Pursue the End…

This is the final lesson in our series, but hopefully just the beginning of your journey in understanding what it means to lead others — and yourself — into the “name” of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As we proceed to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (cf Philippians 2:12), it is essential to continually rejoice (cf. Philippians 4:4), because the “joy of the Lord is our strength” (cf. Nehemiah 8:10). We may occasionally become discouraged when we realize we will never reach complete perfection, either in our discipline, our character, or even our theology (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:9). On the other hand, the good news is that this means we will always have room for improvement!

This course has tried to give you the basics, but there are even more wonderful truths about Christ to be understood, deeper works of the Holy Spirit to be experienced, and greater glories for the Father to be won.

May we persevere together in that pursuit until the day we are all finally united with our Beloved Bridegroom, to celebrate His matchless “name” for all eternity.

Memory Verse: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”Matthew 25:13 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 13. Celebration
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 13. Perseverance
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 8. Joy: “We Laughed, We Sang”
    • 11. Perseverance: “They Never Could Keep Me Down!”
    • A Long Obedience: Epilogue
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 9. A Rule of Life: Cultivating Rhythms for Spiritual Transformation

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LEAD! Syllabus for “Theological Foundations”


[NOTE: the official syllabus is now on the “Lead” page; this post is obsolete, but kept for the sake of historical continuity].

[Yes, I should probably have written this before the first lesson, but better late than never…]

In thinking about it, I ought to take my Curriculum one step further, and actually identify the passages and key learnings for each lesson. Not only will this help ensure I’m on the same page as my pastor, but it would enable others to write some of the lessons (since class starts on September 4th!).

I’ve also cross-referenced these lessons against two common systematic theology books:

In addition to providing a sort index to the topics covered, this allows students and teachers to use those as supplementary textbooks.

  • Draft 1 – Sunday, 24th August
  • Draft 2 – Tuesday, 26th August: Added “Doctrine” “Essentials” chapters for each lesson
  • Draft 3 – Friday, 29th August: Added “Doctrines” chapters for each lesson

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